A man on a bridge in the UK with a residency visa

Here is our guide to all UK Visa Types and Residency permits. While it is a lot more complicated for EU citizens since Brexit, it is possible. New immigration routes have opened up for applications to work, live and study in the UK.

EU Settlement Scheme

If you are an EU citizen (or from Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Liechtenstein) based in the UK before 31 December 2020, this is for you. You should have applied to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021. If you missed that deadline, you might still be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. You might be able to apply if you’re a family member of an eligible person from Northern Ireland.

You can still apply if you or a family member were living in the UK by 31 December 2020. But you must also either:

  • Meet one of the criteria for a later deadline to apply
  • Have ‘reasonable grounds’ for not applying by 30 June 2021

You can also apply if you have pre-settled status, and you’re applying for settled status.

You may be able to stay in the UK without applying. For example, if you’re an Irish citizen, or you have indefinite leave to enter or remain.

If your application is successful, you’ll get either settled or pre-settled status.

How To Apply For all UK Visa Types.

You can apply and pay for your UK visas online. You will usually be asked to provide your biometric information. For EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens, you will need to provide a digital photo of your face using a smartphone app. But for some visas, you will need to go to an overseas visa application center to have your photo taken. For Non-EU citizens, you need to submit your fingerprints and a photo at an overseas visa application centre.

Skilled Work Visas

The UK is currently suffering from serious staff shortages. This is due in part to Brexit and also to the pandemic, which led to an exodus of overseas workers. Therefore, they have introduced a Skilled Work Visa to enable employers to recruit from outside the UK. This visa has replaced the Tier 2 (General) work visa. There is a list of shortage occupations that are highly sought after. If you can find a position in one of these occupations, you need to:

How long can I stay?

Your visa can last for up to 5 years before you need to extend it. When it expires or if you change jobs or employers before this date, you will need to apply to extend or update your visa.

Want to stay longer in the UK?

You can apply to extend your visa as many times as you like as long as you meet the eligibility requirements.

After 5 years, you can apply for ‘indefinite leave to remain’ in the UK. This means you would be a permanent resident of the UK. This gives you the right to live, work, and study for as long as you like and apply for benefits if you’re eligible.

What Occupations Are On The Shortage Occupations List?

Currently, these include a broad array of occupations. There are shortages in health care and care work of all types. Other shortages range from scientific and engineering roles to dancers and musicians. Here is the full list of shortage occupations in different areas of the UK and a breakdown of the accepted pay.

The Global Talent Visa

Are you world-leading in your field of expertise? A prize-winning architect, writer, or performer, perhaps? A leading academic, maybe? If you are at the pinnacle of your chosen profession, this could be the visa for you.

You can apply for a Global Talent visa to work in the UK if you are a leader in one of the following fields:

  • Academia or research
  • Arts and Culture
  • Digital technology

How Long Can I Stay?

As with the Skilled Workers Visa, you can stay for up to 5 years and can continually extend. After 5 years, you can apply for settled status.

Innovator visa

The Innovator route is for a person seeking to establish a business in the UK. It must be based on an innovative, viable, and scalable business idea they have generated, or to which they have significantly contributed.

The application must be supported by an endorsing body.

An applicant will be expected to have funds of at least £50,000 to invest in their business. And you must play a key role in the day-to-day management and development of the business.

You must also:

  • Speak and write English fluently
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Proof that you have personal savings to support yourself and your family while you’re in the UK

The Innovator route is a route to permanent settlement in the UK.

A typical street in the United Kingdom where you can get a residency visa

Start-Up visa

You can apply for a Start-up visa if you want to set up an innovative business in the UK. It must be something that’s different from anything else on the market, and it must be viable, with potential for growth. You must be endorsed by an authorized body that is either:

  • A UK higher education institution
  • A business organization with a history of supporting UK entrepreneurs

So how does this differ from the Innovator Visa I hear you ask?

The Innovator Visa is designed for established entrepreneurs. They will need at least £50,000 to invest. The advantage of the Innovator Visa is it can be extended indefinitely, and it can lead to settled status. The Start-up Visa is aimed at aspiring entrepreneurs who do not need to have any funds to invest.

It is valid for 2 years. If you want to extend your stay you will eventually need to switch to the Innovator visa.

UK Ancestry Visa

You can apply for a UK Ancestry visa if you’re one of the following:

  • A Commonwealth citizen
  • A British overseas citizen
  • A British overseas territories citizen
  • A British national (overseas)
  • A citizen of Zimbabwe

You must also:

  • Prove one of your grandparents was born in the UK, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man
  • Be 17 or over
  • Have enough money to support and house yourself and any dependents
  • Plan to work in the UK

Temporary Work Visas

There is a range of temporary work visas available. For seasonal work such as fruit and vegetable picking, there is a 6-month Seasonal Worker Visa available. You can apply from abroad and enter the country for 6 months. You cannot bring any family members with you on this visa.

The Creative Worker Visa is perfect for temporary contracts for dancers, actors, and musicians. You can stay for up to 12 months and bring family members with you. Your application will need to be sponsored by your employer. This visa can be extended.

There is also a Charity Worker Visa for those wishing to undertake unpaid work. And, a similar Religious Worker Visa for religious work.

Student Visas

You can apply for a visa to study in the UK if you:

  • Have been offered a place on a course
  • Can speak, read, write, and understand English
  • Have enough money to support yourself and pay for your course

Also, a new graduate visa is available to international students who have completed a degree in the UK.

Visiting the UK

EU, EEA, Swiss citizens, and other non-visa nationals do not require a visa to enter the UK when visiting the UK for up to 6 months. All migrants looking to enter the UK for other reasons (such as work or study) will need to apply for entry clearance in advance.


As you can see, the new UK visas and residency permits offer a number of routes to settlement in the UK. Whether it is through finding a job in an area where the UK is suffering from staff shortages or through your ancestry or your entrepreneurial spirit. Where there is a will, there is a way!

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